The county council’s Labour administration has hit back at a Lib Dem’s campaign against post-16 cuts, describing it as ‘increasingly desperate and cynical games’.
As reported on the Gazette website, Julie Pörksen has asked the new Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, to step in and stop Northumberland County Council implementing its new post-16 transport policy.
The Secretary of State has the right to intervene where transport arrangements have not been included in the policy or if they are satisfied that an authority has acted unreasonably.
Julie said: “It’s bad enough that Labour decided to adopt its unfair policy of charging for transport, but the actual implementation of their policy is a complete and utter shambles. It shows a serious lack of respect for the young people and their parents that the Labour councillors did not allow sufficient time for their policy to be put in place.”
But the Labour group has pointed to a response to a letter to the Prime Minister, from the Government’s Ministerial and Public Communications Division, which confirms that ‘it is for the council to decide on the exact level of support in its area and arrangements may change from one year to the next, based on local circumstances and the council’s priorities’.
Labour and council leader, Grant Davey, said: “It seems the Liberal Democrats are intent on continuing the party-political games around the difficult decision to end free post-16 transport. The Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate should take heed of the Prime Minister’s office no less and she needs to explain how the council will make £32million-worth of cuts this year alone without difficult decisions. Instead of playing increasingly desperate and cynical games, she needs to explain why she thinks it’s a good deal for Northumberland’s taxpayers to shell out £3.3million every year for just one per cent of the population and why she’s in favour of shelling out £480,000 for rail passes for just 90 students, for example.”